Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas adventures

Here’s a run down on the last week:
Saturday the 19th – the kids had their last day of school before the break. In the evening we had Sam’s birthday party.
Sunday the 20th – Tuesday the 22nd – Stefan and I went on a business trip to Helsinki. The drive down was pretty treacherous, especially the last 150km when it was SNOWING like crazy and the 30km we were stuck behind a snowplow when we couldn’t see anything. On the way home, we stopped at the big mall in Tampere to finish our Christmas shopping but still were unable to complete our lists . . . Again, the snowfall made the drive home extremely difficult. I was so happy when we finally arrived safely home around 8:30pm. Sam’s grandpa took him to town earlier in the day to write his drivers’ license test, which he passed.
Wednesday the 23rd – I went to Vaasa in the afternoon to finish Christmas shopping (I have never been this late before – people who know me IRL know that I am very organized and this is completely out of character for me). It was so frustrating to have things on the list that I couldn’t find ANYWHERE (like G-Force for DS and Star Wars I, II and V). Anyways, the original plan was for both Stefan and I to go, but Joel was sick so Stefan stayed home with the kids. At 5:30, I was heading to the airport to pick up my brother and got the message that they had been unable to make their connection and were waiting in Helsinki for the next available flight (I already knew the plane was late leaving Stockholm and that this was a possibility). So, I waited at the airport for a few hours for Steve, Stefan’s cousin and her husband (who were all on the same flight). Good thing I had found a cheap Sudoku book!
Steve, arriving in Vaasa.

Thursday the 24th – the earlier part of the day was spent showering kids, ironing clothes, doing hair, wrapping gifts, etc. Stefan took Steve to the doctor because he’s sick and needed some antibiotics. At 4pm we went to Stefan’s parents’ house for a traditional Scandinavian Christmas Eve, with most of Stefan’s siblings and their families, which is something like this:
  • watching “Kalle Anka” (“From All of Us to All of You”) – a Walt Disney special that first aired on Swedish TV in 1958. The show is one of the most popular shows all year in Sweden. The following shorts are usually shown:
    • Santa’s Workshop
    • Clown of the Jungle
    • Pluto's Christmas Tree
    • Mickey’s Trailer
    • Ferdinand the Bull
    Small bits of these films are included as well:
    • Snow White and the 7 Dwarves
    • Cinderella
    • Lady & the Tramp
    • Jungle Book
    • Robin Hood

  • eating dinner – Christmas food in Finland usually includes: rice porridge sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, baked ham, meatballs, sausages, carrot casserole, rutabaga casserole, several sorts of fish (including herring and stockfish), potatoes, salads, etc.P1020830 P1020833 

  • waiting for Jultomten (also known simply as ”Tomten”, is the Swedish Father Christmas, who visits houses in the afternoon on Christmas Eve to distribute presents to children.) P1020842 P1020844 
 The youngest cousin LOVES Mattias – if she isn’t calling for her mom or dad, she’s calling “Tee-us!” Here, she had been trying to give him a smooch.
Usually, a family member or neighbour will dress up as Jultomten, often using a mask to disguise their face. The visit follows a traditional formula, with Jultomten asking ”Are there any good children here?” before distributing his burden of presents.
This year it was Stefan. (He looks a bit like a lost member of ZZTop . . .)

P1020854 P1020855
After, we went home and “chatted” with my Dad on the computer. P1020866 P1020867
The kids played Twister and then went to bed.

Friday the 25th – the kids woke up and were able to see what was in their stockings. When I awoke at 9:30, I first thought how lovely it was to sleep in, and then I panicked when I realized I was cooking turkey for 23 people and needed to get the stuffing started! We hadn’t taken all the gifts over the night before, so the kids waited until I was done with food preparations and then they finally got to open the rest of their presents, the ones that Santa Claus brought and those from family and friends.P1020869 P1020873
Steve’s gifts from Mattias and Joel.

At 5pm we had a traditional North American Christmas dinner, right down to the sweet potato casserole and brussel sprouts!
P1020874  P1020875 P1020876   P1020879
Saturday the 26th – today has been a day to sleep in and relax. We ate the leftovers from last night’s dinner this afternoon, and now they’re almost all gone.
Hopefully, I’ll soon have some time to catch up on other blogs and emails.
Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!!


Tezzie said...

What a wonderful Christmas you've all had! Beautiful photos, and a great description of traditional celebrations (might just have to link to your page, 'cause I don't have it in me to be so descriptive myself! ;D)
The boys are getting so big and's been too long since we've seen them all! Love the shot with the youngest cousin and Mattias. 'Boy' still remembers Mattias, and talks about his 'kompis' and how he misses him :D. Also a beautiful pic of you with Joel...
Hope you're having a fab visit with your brother. We'll have to be in touch!
Trevlig fortsättning på julen :D

Purplestamper said...

Whew...know that it is all done...put your feet up, and breath. Pretty quiet around here.


AddingOn said...

I love reading about your different traditions there. But this is confusing, does Santa come that afternoon, then again at night? Looks like you had a great Christmas!!

Cheri said...

Merry Christmas, Sista! Glad you're having all the traditions represented for your holidays! Sounds busy... but, absolutely fabulous! Love you lots!

Stacy, Pat and Aidan said...

It all sounds wonderful! Merry Christmas!

tammy said...

looks like you had a wonderful christmas. i love reading about all your traditions.

Kim Abraham said...

Barb, I just love reading your blog and seeing your beautiful, fun-loving family. It's so interesting (and cool) how you combine traditions from different countries. There's nothing better than Christmas with a big family. I know how hectic and nerve-racking it can be in the moment, but you are making wonderful memories for your kids. And I have to say it again... Sophia's hair is GORGEOUS!

Becky and Keith said...

Wow! You did it all and then some! I hope you were able to enjoy some downtime with your brother! Love reading about your traditions and how you combine everything.. I can barely keep one country straight! :-) Happy New Year to you and your family! BTW, thanks for the tip about Live Writer... LOVE IT!

Amy said...

Great pictures! I loved hearing about the traditional Christmas in another country... thanks for sharing!! And I can't believe you were cooking for 23 and looked sooo calm!

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.